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McDonald's Survey Phishing Scam Email

Email, purporting to be from McDonald's, claims that recipients can get a $250 fee for filling in a short survey.

Brief Analysis
The message is a scam. The survey is bogus and the promised fee is the bait designed to trick victims into submitting personal and financial information to Internet criminals.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 28th January 2011
First published: 26th February 2009
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

Subject: McDonald's

Dear [Name removed],

You have been selected to participate in a public opinion poll conducted by McDonald's, a non-partisan polling organization. The poll is about current events at the national level and your views about them. It is short and should take you only 5-7 minutes to complete. All of your answers will be kept strictly confidential and will be used only for legitimate research purposes.

To take the poll, click on this link:


Each person taking the poll will win $250
Thank you for your participation!

Survey Manager

Official Rules | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Detailed Analysis
According to this email, the recipient will be rewarded with a $250 payment from McDonald's just for filling out a very short and simple survey. The message instructs recipients to click a link included in the email to participate in the survey.

However, the email is not from McDonald's and the survey and the promised $250 payment are entirely bogus. The "survey" is a ruse designed to fool victims into submitting their credit card details and other private information to Internet criminals. Those who click the link in the message will be taken to a web page that contains a five question survey about McDonald's food and service.

The page includes official looking McDonald's logos designed to make the bogus survey seem more legitimate. Once the survey is complete, the participant is instructed to click a button, supposedly to claim the $250 fee. Clicking the button opens a second web page that asks for name, ID and credit card details, supposedly to allow the $250 fee to be added to the survey taker's card account. Once submitted, these details can be collected by the criminals operating the scam and used for credit card fraud and identity theft. The following screen captures depict the bogus survey and submission form:

Bogus McDonald's Survey

Bogus McDonald's Survey Submission Form

To further the illusion that the message is legitimate, secondary links at the bottom of the scam email actually point to pages on the genuine McDonald's website.

A very similar scam that has also recently been distributed claimed that Coca Cola was the company paying a $250 fee for survey participants. As in this version, a bogus submission form asked participants to provide credit card and other personal information. Scammers also use other well-known institutions in variations of the same bogus survey scheme, including Walmart, Citibank and even the IRS.

This is certainly not the first time that criminals have used bogus McDonald's surveys as a means of stealing personal and financial information from unsuspecting recipients. An earlier version (see example below) of the McDonald's survey scam that was first reported in 2009, supposedly offered Australian McDonald's customers $50 for participating in a "quick 7 question survey". This version also stole credit card details from victims via a bogus submission form that appeared on completion of the survey.

Internet users should be very wary of any messages that promise a payment for filling out a short survey. Companies may certainly conduct customer surveys and may even reward participants by entering them into a prize draw or offering free or discounted products. In some cases, they may even pay customers who participate in in-depth surveys or organized focus groups. However, they are extremely unlikely to pay such a substantial fee for filling out a small and insignificant survey. Nor would any ethical company resort to sending out unsolicited bulk emails in order to entice consumers to participate.

If you receive one of these bogus survey messages, do not participate as instructed. Do not click on any links in the messages or open any attachments that they may contain.

An example of an earlier McDonald's survey scam message:
Subject: Receive $50 Bonus To Participate In Our Customer Satisfaction Survey

Dear McDonald's Customer,
We are planning big changes for 2009 at McDonalds AU chain of restaurants and because your oppinion is very important to us, we invite you to take a short Customer Satisfaction Survey that will help us improve the quality of our food and services.
We know your time is valuable, so we will give you a $50 bonus just for taking our quick 7 question survey. The entire process will take no more than 5 minutes.

Take the survey (link to bogus website removed)

You can participate in this survey only once.

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Quick And Easy Survey Phishing Scam
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Warning: McDonald's Survey Email is Phishing

Last updated: 28th January 2011
First published: 26th February 2009
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer